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John’s Horror Corner: Color Out of Space (2019), manic Nic Cage meets the alluring madness of HP Lovecraft (done well for a change).

March 1, 2020

MY CALL: Do you like Lovecraft? Have you been asking when they’ll finally get his work right on film. Well, this is about as close as you’re gonna’ get (this decade). Outstanding film; equal parts weird Sci-Fantasy and Horror. MORE MOVIES LIKE Color Out of Space: If you want more Lovecraftian movies/adaptations, go for The Dunwich Horror (1970), George Romero’s The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill in Creepshow (1982), The Curse (1987), The Unnamable (1988), The Resurrected (1991), The Unnamable 2: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1992), Cthulhu Mansion (1992), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Lurking Fear (1994), Dagon (2001), Dreams in the Witch-House (2005) and Cold Skin (2017). And although not specifically of Lovecraftian origins, his influence is most palpable in From Beyond (1986), Prince of Darkness (1987), In the Mouth of Madness (1994), Lord of Illusions (1995), The Shrine (2010), Baskin (2015) and The Void (2016)—all of which are on the more gruesome side to varying degrees.

Gorgeous shots of a darkly mystical forest introduce the seclusion of the Gardner family estate. From minute one, I love the atmosphere captured by this film. It’s one of equally wondrous nature and the wondrous unknown betwixt its shadows.

Having recently departed the city for a quiet and secluded lifestyle, Nathan (Nicolas Cage; Mom and Dad, Mandy) and Theresa Gardner (Joely Richardson; Maggie, The Turning, Red Lights, Event Horizon) have a lovely family with endearingly normal quirks. Together they have survived Theresa’ cancer with their kind-hearted yet cynical good witch-in-training Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur) who communes in hopes of ridding her mother of her illness; a spacy teenage son Benny (Brendan Meyer); and the imaginative youngest son Jack (Julian Hilliard). Among the players is an unwary passerby to their property (Elliot Knight; American Gothic) and the Gardners forest shack squatter (Tommy Chong; Evil Bong).

After a pink glowing meteorite strikes their property, peculiarly mutated nature begins to turn on the Gardners. Having seen what happened in The Curse (1987) and The Blob (1988), I have an idea of the gooiness to come. But it begins innocuously with pink flowers appearing on their lawn, an otherworldly mantis-like creature emerging from their well, and the well itself emitting sounds.

What starts out as chopping vegetables along with fingertips, a boy playing with his invisible friends in the well, manic Cage-typical emotional outbursts and alarming skin rashes eventually develops into bright pink forests, scenes reminiscent of The Thing (1982) and Society (1989), and bloody creature mayhem.

A mixture of CGI and practical effects, the monstrous gore and creature work are quite satisfying. Even if some of the CGI (e.g., the roadkill scene) isn’t so great, it doesn’t harm my enjoyment of the film. But what happens to the mother… that’s the real gem (and a shocker).

Director Richard Stanley (Hardware, The Theater Bizarre) is no stranger to weird films, and he really aced this one with the scintillating admixture of moods. Few films have captured that Lovecraftian feeling of awestruck dread, obsessive mania and unsightly terror. So this came as a most welcome addition to my Lovecraft-adaptation movie collection. There is allure to that which dwells in the purple ectoplasms, and it will have you!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Katie permalink
    March 22, 2020 6:29 pm

    This was an excellent recommendation John. There was not a moment that I wasn’t on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. It was a pleasant mix of creepy, scary, and weird. I’d watch more like this in a heart beat.

    10/10 would recommend for a quarantine relief film

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 22, 2020 7:37 pm

      Yeah, this was special. I cannot wait for the sequel in this trilogy: The Dunwich Horror!

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  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix

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